Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Could It Get ANY Worse?
I know, I know, be careful what you wish for, but I'm telling you, today was the pits.
Day 1 of the final practical. We will complete the practical next Monday, and then have a written final the following Monday. We received 12 eggs to last us the 2 days, and we have to produce the following per practical day:
Day 1: 2 California sushi rolls, 2 orders Asparagus or Broccoli Polonaise, and 2 oranges cut into segments.
Day 2: 1 Quiche Lorraine, 2 servings of spinach souffle, 2 servings, 2 eggs each, of Poached Eggs Mornay, and 2 eggs fried over easy. (What--no partridge and a pear tree?)
We have 6 teams in class, and Chef split us in half and one half of the class did Day 1 and the other Day 2...guess who got the partridge and the pear tree?
And, guess who was appointed sous chef for the day? Yeppers, that was me, too. Normally, being sous chef is fun, because you get to grab stuff out of the walk-in and prepare things for the rest of the class, and (the best part) you get to direct the clean-up operations at the end, without really having to any real hands-on cleaning. Usually not a bad deal. Unless, of course, you have the laundry list of stuff to do from Day 2.
Personally, I think Chef should have chosen one of the Day 1 slackers to be sous chef, but in the end, I'm not sure it really mattered. As a result of being the fetch and carry gal, I was a bit behind in my preparations for my dishes...and I kept getting farther and farther behind, because I was continually tasked with stuff to do or get. Chef kept saying that he wasn't going to penalize me on time, because he knew this was cutting into my completing the dishes. HA! I really did need one of the those Time Turner thingys from Harry Potter that Hermione used, which allowed her to take extra classes.
Thank heavens for the Chiclet. Even though it was a test, and it's probably technically cheating, she measured out a lot of my ingredients while I was running hither and yon and yon and hither. And, honestly, I don't see why it would be a big deal. If I can't measure out 12 ounces of heavy cream and 3 ounces of flour by now, I got heap more bigger problems than her doing it for me. After all, I'm the one that had to murd--I mean poach those poor eggs.
The good news, because I do need some positive pats and snaps, was that the spinach souffles rocked. They puffed up nicely, had a great flavor and consistency. And considering that I sort of slapped them together between the to-ing and fro-ing, I was pretty darn pleased.
On the other hand, the Quiche Lorraine was not very pretty at all. My crust suffered from some shrinkage (okay, quite a bit of shrinkage), and I spilled about 1/3 of my custard mixture when I was putting the filled tart pan in the deck oven. We were using the higher deck for the quiches, and it was awkward since I'm more of what you would call an "average height." Not to fear, everybody in the Day 2 group had screwed up quiche. The flavor was good; but there just wasn't a proper filling to crust ratio.
(And, why is it that I made quiches all spring/summer, thanks to the super egg producing factories know as the neighbor's chickens, with and without homemade crusts, that rose up lovely and tall and didn't suffer from any shrinkage, etc.? Why?)
Quiche that consistently looked like this:
And didn't resemble some sort of pancake with bacon sprinkled in it...actually, that doesn't sound too bad, now does it?.
Chef finally took pity on us and said we could do the fried eggs on Monday. Which was good, I guess, because my nerves were completely frazzled by this point, and I'm going to be doing good to have enough eggs left to complete the practical. I have to produce 2 over easy plus hard boil 1 or 2 for the polonaise. (I'll explain more about the polonaise after that half of the practical...I'm too worn out to contemplate explaining it.)
My Poached Eggs Mornay ended up being sort of 1 Half-assed Poached Egg Mornay. I couldn't keep my yolks from breaking to save my life. And, I ran out of time to actually finish the dish. Eggs Mornay is a lot like Eggs Benedict: there's poached eggs, on a toast round or crouton, a creamy sauce (Mornay is a creamy cheese sauce made from a bechamel with the addition of Gruyere), and little extra cheese on top that is slid under the salamander for just a few seconds. I got 1 egg on 1 toast round with some sauce. And when I tried to put the egg on the sauce and toast, it slid right off and onto the plate and started dribbling yolk.
I gave up at that point. It was obvious that the kitchen gods were against me, and nothing was going to go right today. The icing on the cake or should I say topping on the souffle was getting out out of class about 45 minutes late, in the dark, in the rain, and there was an accident or road blockage no matter which way I turned. It took an hour and a half to get home. (The Poodles were most displeased by this turn of events, especially since I decreed that tonight was dinner out night at the Mexican restaurant with cheap Dos Equis draft, and we would therefore be abandoning them again.) (The Dos Equis was a good thing...and it's making me wonder why I'm not drinking more after dealing with days like today. And, I believe I've got a dusty bottle of Jose Cuervo somewhere, and I can dig up a ratty lime from the bottom of the fridge, so I may just continue my little pity party.)